Why Creating a Customer Journey Map Is Beneficial to Retail Energy Marketers

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In a competitive choice market, a retail energy provider helps customers procure a supply of power while offering alternative pricing options compared to utilities. In this type of market, far too often, customer satisfaction is left out of the equation when calculating a provider’s success. With industry churn rates near 35 percent (and anecdotal evidence supporting that monthly churn rates loom around 4.5 percent), a customer journey map can be a powerful tool to help retail energy providers achieve differentiation and deliver competitive advantage over other providers.

A customer journey map provides insight into opportunities to enhance the customer experience. This exercise puts the user front and center within the organization’s thinking…

  • It’s about reframing challenges to find new opportunities and looking with fresh eyes at the needs of the customers.
  • It highlights how the Internet and social media have changed customer behavior.
  • It demonstrates the need for the organization to adopt client-centric thinking.

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Before mapping the customer journey, consider these criteria:

Place the spotlight on your customer. A customer journey map needs to represent interactions as your customers experience them (i.e., receiving marketing materials, cold calls, door-to-door sales, etc.). This often includes interactions that happen outside of your control, such as social media interaction or web search.

Break the experience into phases. In a longer experience, customers are accomplishing different things at different times. For example, early shopping phases typically involve trying to figure out what questions to ask, whereas later phases are more transactional. By understanding the customer’s mindset at each stage, you can customize the experience around relevant needs.

Capture your customer’s goals. A great customer journey map shows your customer’s goals at each stage of the process. Goals can change as the process unfolds.

Use research. Do not use internal staff to build these – that makes a process flow. Depending on the scope, the customer journey map process should involve in-depth interviews, possibly combined with surveys (i.e., customer satisfaction surveys conducted via the company website, on the phone or sent through the mail).

Describe the touchpoints your customers use to interact with your organization. Touchpoints are points of interaction your customers have with your brand, or outside of your brand (such as web search or word of mouth), as they seek to meet their specific goals. A lot of the discussion about the value of journey maps is related to gaining clear insight into the different touchpoints across customers’ journeys.

Include time. Experience length provides important context. Does the typical call last 30 seconds or 10 minutes? Did customers spend 20 minutes or 40 hours deciding on a product?

Bring in customer verbatims. Rather than being a one-off project, the journey map should incorporate components of your Voice of the Customer (VoC) efforts, which will help bring the customer experience to life. (What do customers say about renewable options, pricing, billing options, the online portal, etc.?)

Measure your brand promise. A critical outcome of an effective customer journey map is measuring how your processes support your brand promise. If your brand promise is to be either effortlessly simple (the easiest to use billing system or most convenient budget bill payment plan) or highly customized (greatest customer savings programs, most renewable options), then your journey map is an excellent way to document whether your customers feel you are meeting that goal.

Use the journey map to visually focus on emotions. Emotions are critical to any experience. In fact, 70 percent of motivations that influence decisions are subconscious and emotional. A great customer journey map clearly communicates related emotions at each phase.

The benefits of creating a customer journey map include:

  • An opportunity for management and employees of a retail energy provider to discuss the delivery of products and services in a customer-focused manner
  • Requiring stakeholders throughout a retail energy organization to think critically about its brand promise, customer segments, personas and sources of VoC data
  • Constructing an important step toward a cultural transformation for energy providers that think of their customers as “meters” or “rate payers”
  • Directly engaging your customers in designing and improving experiences with retail energy providers
  • Providing a visual, easily digestible conversation piece as a retail energy provider gains support for enhancing the customer experience throughout the organization
  • Enabling a retail energy provider to prioritize its customer experience improvement efforts, focusing on moments of truth.

A customer journey map can help your organization proactively address customer satisfaction needs to reduce customer churn; thereby, escalating your organization’s profitability. By placing the spotlight on your customers’ experiences, operational inefficiencies can be managed, which correlates to wins for your customers and your retail energy operations.

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